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Qatari Regulator Fines the U.A.E.'s Biggest Lender $55 Million

Archana Narayanan and Nicolas Parasie

(Bloomberg) -- Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority fined First Abu Dhabi Bank PJSC 200 million Qatari riyals ($55 million) for obstructing an investigation into suspected market manipulation by the United Arab Emirates’ biggest lender.

The fine “reflects the gravity and seriousness of the breaches of regulatory requirements caused by the deliberate and intentional steps taken by FAB” to obstruct the investigation into the manipulation of the riyal, Qatari government securities and related financial instruments, the regulator said in a statement on Sunday.

Qatar last year banned the lender from growing its business in the country as it investigated suspected attempts to devalue the riyal at the height of a diplomatic standoff with Gulf neighbors in 2017. The nation keeps the currency pegged to the dollar. But after Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., Bahrain and Egypt accused it of backing terrorism -- a charge Qatar denies -- and imposed an economic boycott, the riyal came under pressure in the offshore market.

The QFCRA started its investigation last March. As part of the investigation, the regulator asked First Abu Dhabi Bank to provide copies of the relevant trading records and related documentation it held, but the Abu Dhabi-based lender failed to do so, according to the statement.

First Abu Dhabi Bank “made good faith efforts to engage with the QFCRA to resolve the matter, with FAB’s QFC branch providing all relevant and responsive information that it was required to disclose pursuant to QFC law,” the U.A.E. lender said in a statement. “Any allegations that FAB’s QFC branch failed to provide appropriate disclosures are false.”

The Qatari regulator will continue with its investigation and the bank may be “subject to additional disciplinary action in the future if such action is warranted by the findings,” it said.

First Abu Dhabi Bank “is in the process of effecting an orderly wind-down of the QFC branch’s operations, following many months of baseless actions by the QFCRA that have made it impossible for FAB’s operations to continue in Qatar,” it said in the statement.

--With assistance from Abbas Al Lawati.

To contact the reporters on this story: Archana Narayanan in Dubai at anarayanan16@bloomberg.net;Nicolas Parasie in Dubai at nparasie1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Stefania Bianchi at sbianchi10@bloomberg.net, Claudia Maedler

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